Patient Exercises

Shoulder Rehabilitation Exercises for Patients

by Trent Thompson   |   August 3, 2021

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Shoulder Rehabilitation Treatment for Patients

Shoulder injuries are very common in all ages of people. The shoulder consists of two anatomical joints: The Gleno-humeral joint and the Acromio-clavicular joint. The Gleno-humeral joint is the connection of the arm with the scapula (“shoulder blade”). The Acromio-clavicular joint is the connection of the clavicle (“collar bone”) and the scapula. Their are a large number of muscles and ligaments associated with the shoulder, the most important being the rotator cuff muscles (subscapularis, teres minor, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus) and the Acromio-clavicular ligaments along with the Gleno-humeral joint capsule. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons which hold the Glenohumeral joint together and aid in lifting the arm over the head.

This exercise program is not a substitute for seeing a Doctor, so if your shoulder pain doesn’t get better with time, we advise that you see your local chiropractor or physical therapist. From there, they will determine if further medical treatment is needed. If you’ve suffered an injury, such as a car accident, sports injury, falling, or experience pain in your shoulder, you should consult a healthcare professional before attempting any exercises at home.

Common causes of shoulder pain include tight and/or weak muscles. This exercise program includes strengthening exercises and stretches. The flexibility portion includes static stretches, range of motion (ROM), and dynamic stretching.

It is almost important to note that none of these exercises should hurt, you may experience discomfort, fatigue, or soreness, but if any exercises begin to hurt you stop performing them immediately.

The exercises listed may not help in the case of a torn muscle/ligament, severe inflammation, arthritis, or nerve impingement. If you can’t perform any exercises within this program without experiencing pain, we advise that you consult a chiropractor and/or physical therapist.

Exercises for Shoulder Rehabilitation: Increased Flexibility and Strength

All of the exercises listed are to be done with slow and steady movements and controlled breathing. Do only what you feel comfortable doing. 

1. Codman’s/ Pendulum

Codmans Pendulums

1. Lean forward and place one hand on a counter or table for support. Let your other arm hang freely at your side.

2. Gently swing your arm forward and back. Repeat the exercise moving your arm side-to-side, and repeat again in a circular motion.

3. Keep from rounding your back or locking your knees.

4. Repeat 10 times.

5. Complete 2-3 sets.

2. Crossover Arm Stretch

Crossover Arm Stretch

1. Standing upright, relax your shoulders and pull one arm across your body as far as possible. Hold at your upper arm.

2. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds.

3. Repeat the stretch for your other arm.

4. Repeat the stretch 3 times for each arm.

3. Active Assistive ROM with Stick

1. Keep your affected arm relaxed, do not lift your affected arm on its own.

2. Move through the motions slowly.

Passive Flexion with Stick

Flexion:

1. Hold a stick with your hands shoulder width apart.

2. Slowly raise your arms up out in front of you. Relax your affected arm allowing your unaffected arm to lift your affected arm.

3. After holding for 3-5 seconds at the end range, slowly return back down.

4. Repeat 10 times.

Passive Extension with Stick

Extension: 

1. Hold a stick at your side with your affected arm at your side.

2. Slowly push your affected arm backwards behind you. Keep your body upright and your affected arm relaxed.

3. After holding for 3-5 seconds at the end range, slowly return back down.

4. Repeat 10 times.

Passive Abduction with Stick

Abduction:

1. Hold a stick with your hands shoulder width apart.

2. Slowly push your affected arm to the side of you. Completely relax your affected arm.

3. After holding for 3-5 seconds at the end range, slowly return back down.

4. Repeat 10 times.

Internal RotationExtension

Internal Rotation/Extension:

1. Hold a stick with your hands as close as possible behind your body.

2. Slowly raise your affected arm up, bringing your affected arm up with it. Relax your affected arm as much as possible.

3. After holding for 3-5 seconds at the end range, slowly return back down.

4. Repeat 10 times.

Passive Internal Rotation

Passive Internal Rotation:

1. Hold a stick with your hands shoulder width apart behind your back.

2. Slowly pull your affected arm behind your body. Completely relax your affected arm.

3. After holding for 3-5 seconds at the end range, slowly return back down.

4. Repeat 10 times. 

Passive External Rotation

Passive External Rotation:

1. Hold a stick with one hand and cup the other end of the stick with your other hand.

2. Slowly push your affected arm outward horizontally.

3. After holding for 3-5 seconds at the end range, slowly return back down.

4. Repeat 10 times.

4. Towel Stretch Internal Rotation / Extension

Towel Stretch Internal Rotation/Extension

1. Hold a towel behind your back. Affected arm at the bottom.

2. Slowly elevate your affected arm by pulling up with your unaffected arm.

3. Hold for 20-30 seconds at the maximum pain free range, then relax for 30 seconds.

4. Repeat 3-6 times.

5. Sleeper Stretch

Sleeper Stretch

1. Lay on your side on a firm surface with your affected arm under you as shown. Flex your elbow to 90 degrees.

2. Slowly press down on your forearm with the opposite arm, stopping when you feel a stretch.

3. Hold for 20-30 seconds at the maximum pain free range, then relax for 30 seconds.

4. Repeat 3-6 times.

6. Standing Row

Standing Row

1. Attach a band to a doorknob or other steady surface. You may tie the ends of the band together to create a loop.

2. Stand upright with your arm at a 90 degree angle at your side.

3. Keeping your arm tucked at your side, slowly pull your elbow straight backwards.

4. Slowly return to the start position, repeat 8-12 times.

5. Complete 3 sets.

7. External Rotation with Arm Abducted 90°

External Rotation with Band

1. Attach a band to a doorknob or other steady surface. You may tie the ends of the band together to create a loop.

2. Stand upright with your arm at a 90 degree angle and at shoulder height.

3. Keeping your shoulder and elbow at an even level, slowly raise your hand until it is facing upwards, or even with your head.

4. Slowly return to the start position, repeat 8-12 times.

5. Complete 3 sets.

8. Internal Rotation with Band

Internal Rotation

1. Attach a band to a doorknob or other steady surface. You may tie the ends of the band together to create a loop.

2. Stand perpendicular to the band with your arm at a 90 degree angle and tucked at your side.

3. Keeping your elbow tucked, slowly rotate your hand inward.

4. Slowly return to the start position, repeat 8-12 times.

5. Complete 3 sets.

9. External Rotation with Band

External Rotation

1. Attach a band to a doorknob or other steady surface. You may tie the ends of the band together to create a loop.

2. Stand perpendicular to the band with your arm at a 90 degree angle and tucked at your side.

3. Keeping your elbow tucked, slowly rotate your hand outward.

4. Slowly return to the start position, repeat 8-12 times.

5. Complete 3 sets.

10. Elbow Flexion (Bicep Curl)

Bicep Curl

1. Standing upright hold a dumbbell in each hand.

2. Keeping your elbow close to your side slowly raise the weight upwards toward your shoulder.

3. Avoid swinging your arm or using momentum.

4. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.

5. Complete 3 sets.

11. Elbow Extension (Overhead Tricep Extension)

Tricep Extension

1. Standing upright hold a dumbbell over your head. Support your arm by holding your opposite hand on your upper arm.

2. Slowly straighten your elbow and raise the weight overhead.

3. Repeat for 8-12 repetions.

4. Complete 3 sets.

12. Straight Arm Dumbbell Row

Straight Arm Dumbbell Row

1. Place your knee or a chair or bench and lean forward so your that your hand supports your weight. Use a light weight (1-7lbs).

2. Slowly raise the weight behind you parallel to the floor, rotating your hand to a thumbs-up position. Keep your arm straight.

3. Repeat 15-20 times.

4. Complete 3-4 sets.

13. Scapula Setting

Scapular Setting

1. Lay on your stomach with your arms at your side. Palms facing downwards.

2. Slowly draw your shoulder blades together and down your back.

3. Ease about halfway off this position and hold for 10 seconds, then relax for 10 seconds.

4. Repeat 10 times.

14. Scapular Retraction/Protraction

Scapular RetractionProtraction

1. Lay on your stomach on an edge with your affected arm hanging off the side.

2. Slowly raise your arm keeping your elbow straight by drawing your shoulder blade to the other side. You are not raising your arm straight out to your side, but elevating your arm.

3. Repeat 10 times.

4. Complete 2 sets.

15. Bent-Over Horizontal Abduction

Bent Over Horizontal Abduction

1. Lay on your stomach on an edge with your affected arm hanging off the side.

2. Slowly raise your arm keeping your elbow straight by raising your arm out to your side. Control the movement.

3. Repeat 10 times.

4. Complete 2 sets.

16. Internal and External Rotation

Internal and External Rotation

1. Lay on your back on a steady surface.

2. Raise your arm to 90 degrees and lift your fingers to face upwards.

3. Keeping your arm bend, slowly move your arm as shown.

4. Bring your arm to a smaller angle (45 degrees) if 90 degrees hurts.

5. Repeat 20 times.

6. Complete 3-4 sets.

17. External Rotation

External Rotation 1

1. Lay on your side on a steady surface with your unaffected arm cradling your head.

2. Hold your arm at a 90 degree angle, keeping your affected arms elbow tucked at your side.

3. Slowly raise your arm to a vertical position and lower the weight slowly.

4. Repeat 10 times.

5. Complete 2-3 sets.

18. Internal Rotation

Internal Rotation with DB

1. Lay on your side on a flat surface on the side of the affected arm

2. Hold your arm at a 90 degree angle, keeping your affected arms elbow tucked at your side.

3. Slowly raise your arm to a vertical position and lower the weight slowly.

4. Repeat 10 times.

5. Complete 2-3 sets.

How Patient Exercises Helps Healthcare Professionals

Patient Exercises is an all inclusive exercise program builder that can be easily broken down into four modules that work together to help providers deliver better care.

Program Builder: Our easy to use program builder that enables you to pick and choose exercises beneficial to your patients recovery. 

Patient Management: Manage all of your patients program notes, track progress, and keep EMR’s. 

Exercise Video Library: Gain access to our inclusive digital library of hundreds of exercises

Automated Communications: Never miss a beat. Our system automatically notifies your patients of changes to their program made by you.

Get Started

If you want to test some of the features available with Patient Exercises, you can sign up here. If you need help implementing changes like these in your practice or want to chat more about how Patient Exercises can benefit you, get in touch.

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